Have you ever wanted to make ice cider? What about using juice concentrate for bottle conditioning? Have you ever wondered if there was an effective way to store apple juice? These are all reasons why you might want to freeze concentrate apple juice, or any juice for that matter. It’s a fairly simple process that basically requires some plastic bottles, a funnel, and a standard freezer. Why plastic? Juice expands when you freeze it so if you use glass or metal, there is a good chance something will break. I personally have six 1/2 gallon (1.9l) plastic bottles that I use for concentrating juice. Besides apple, I often concentrate prickly pear juice because I want to increase the sugar content. That brings up the question of what does concentrating juice do?
Concentrating juice removes water while leaving behind sugars, organic acids, amino acids, and many other the compounds naturally found in the juice. Concentrating to 1/2 the original volume will approximately double these compounds in your juice. If your juice gravity was 1.050, it should be around 1.090-1.100. The same will happen to the organic acids and other compounds. These suspended solids increase the freezing point of the juice so they thaw first. Drawing off the liquid with these suspended solids will leave behind liquid that has less of these compounds (i.e. closer to water).
I freeze and thaw my juice a few times to encourage the concentration of these compounds in the outer layer and helping to extract more of them from the water in the juice. When I do this freeze-thaw process, I don’t let the juice completely thaw. I usually only allow about half of the bottle to thaw to try to concentrate the water in the center and the juice on the outside. After you have concentrated the juice once, you can further concentrate it if you want to continue to increase these compounds. For example, if you wanted a starting gravity for your ice cider of 1.130, you might need to reduce your juice 2-3 times. Just remember that you lose about half of this volume each time. However, you could use the remaining lower concentrate to make a low ABV cider so there are ways to use it. Your concentrate could also be used as a bottle conditioning sugar or even to back sweeten a cider at the time you are drinking it. It’s a great way to store excess juice for future use but I recommend using it to craft an ice cider, which are always one of my friends favorite ciders. Technically, the ABV will be in the wine category.
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